Blog Post

SEO Audits: The What, Why, and How


As a business owner, you probably already know the importance of search engine optimization. SEO is what allows a site to be more easily found online through relevant search queries. But while you might be working consistently to ensure blog posts are optimized and you’re making headway on a link-building strategy, there could be some overlooked barriers to your SEO success.

Unless you’re actively searching for those problems, you might not ever realize they’re there. Your only clue might be an SEO campaign that isn’t making the progress you’d expect -- and, of course, that can be chalked up to any number of factors. Identifying and analyzing the SEO that’s already present on your site (or a client’s site) is a necessary step that often gets skipped. In those cases, it’s only when you don’t achieve the desired results that you might realize there’s a piece of the puzzle that you’re missing.

SEO audits can take the mystery out of the equation and ensure you know exactly what your site is (or isn’t) communicating to Google. Although you might be tempted to hit the ground running with fresh content or even a site re-design, the SEO audit needs to be performed to ensure your other efforts translate to ranking improvements.

We’ve recently gotten a number of SEO audit inquiries from members of our white label reseller program. That inspired us to share our knowledge in today’s post -- and to encourage our partners to add these audits to their to-do list for their clients or even for their own businesses.

What is an SEO Audit?

Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is an audit for SEO?

Each industry expert seems to have their own unique definition of SEO audits. But simply put, they’re evaluations of a site through the lens of search engine practices. As Neil Patel says, an SEO audit captures the “Googleability” of a site -- or its ability to appear in search engine result pages (SERPs).

Ultimately, the purpose of an SEO audit is to identify (and subsequently fix) any issues that might prevent your site from ranking in search engine results. When we conduct an SEO audit, we want to diagnose any problems that might exist and provide recommendations for rectifying those problems.

That sounds pretty straightforward -- but there are a number of problems that could potentially keep a site from ranking on Google. These problems could range from broken links and navigation errors to poor site security and non-optimized tags. Typically, this process involves a close look at technical and on-site SEO, although some agencies may also include off-site components (like backlinking and social media) as part of the deal.

Analyzing all of these different aspects of your site requires the use of specific platforms and industry expertise. While there are certain parts of an SEO audit you could theoretically conduct on your own, you might not know what to do with that information. Alternatively, you could miss out on a lot of other important data by relying on only one free tool or on your limited knowledge of SEO. If you really want in-depth insight into what’s going on with your site and its ability to rank, a professional SEO audit is the way to go.

SEO Audit Vs. Site Audit Vs. SEO Analysis

It’s important to note that these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they may have subtle differences, depending on the circumstance.

A website audit, for example, might include other factors in addition to search engine optimization potential. While SEO is usually included (or can be improved as a consequence), it may be more extensive -- or, in some cases, more general -- than an SEO audit. That said, some agencies will provide website auditing services to address the issues that are found during SEO audits. It’s a good idea to find out what’s included in a website audit so you don’t make any incorrect assumptions.

Some digital marketing experts will refer to audits as “analyses.” In some cases, they may mean the same thing. But in others, an SEO analysis will be more limited than an audit or it may take place at a different point in the optimization process. A specialist could also use the term “SEO audit” as a way to package a few different analyses that were performed for a given website. In that sense, it may not be as comprehensive as you’d hoped.

Ultimately, these terms can all mean different things, but they don’t in every situation. It’s best to get clarification from your SEO provider to ensure that you and your clients are really getting what’s expected. Your SEO partner should be happy to walk you through what’s included in this service -- whether they call it an SEO audit, a site audit, or an SEO analysis.

Why Are SEO Audits So Critical?

Now that you have a clearer understanding of what an SEO audit is, it’s time to talk about why they matter. That might seem obvious to you if you already have a basic foundation of SEO. But you might not be connecting all of the dots -- or you might be working with a client who doesn’t completely grasp how what’s on their site can impact their rankings.

If something on a site is holding a business back from improving its rankings, that means that the business will undoubtedly miss out on web traffic and conversions. In the end, that means that you’ll probably lose out to the competition -- and no one wants that.

By performing an audit focused on SEO, you’ll gain additional insight into how well your site aligns with recommended search engine optimization practices. In so doing, you’ll figure out what’s keeping you (or your client) from climbing in the rankings and can make the changes necessary to really compete.

Think of SEO audits as growth opportunities. The process of conducting an SEO audit can serve as either an important first step in starting a digital marketing strategy or as an ongoing measure to maintain a website’s health and adherence to best practices. The information you’ll obtain from SEO audits can help you assess performance, see what your competitors are doing, set clear and realistic expectations, and make better decisions for your strategy. But it’s just one piece of the puzzle (albeit an important one!). Like so many other aspects of SEO, it’s not a “one-and-done” process -- nor is it going to be the only thing you need to do in order to improve a site’s rankings.

How Are SEO Audits Performed?

There are a number of tutorials out there that can assist you in conducting an SEO audit for yourself. But keep in mind that these step-by-step guides aren’t always comprehensive.

What’s more, there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach to SEO auditing. Although there are factors that should be addressed in every audit, there may be other considerations unique to your site that could be missing from these posts. In addition, the tools recommended may not provide all of the data you really need. Alternatively, you may be required to pay for these tools yourself, which isn’t always recommended if you don’t possess substantial know-how in this area.

We’d recommend that you have an SEO audit performed by a digital marketing provider you can trust. Even if you run your own agency, you may not feel completely comfortable handling this for a client (and that’s okay!). Since SEO audits can take a lot of time and energy, providing this service could potentially take away from your ability to serve your other clients. Outsourcing a thorough SEO audit can be an excellent way for you to save time while high-quality services and the data you need to develop a successful SEO strategy.

That said, it’s understandable that you might want a basic overview of this process. Every SEO professional will likely have a different checklist they use to perform audits and may use different tools to get the job done. One process isn’t inherently better than the other; what’s most important is that the process be thorough and detail-oriented. In some cases, SEO audits can take several weeks to complete! These audits should look at technical issues, on-page and off-page factors, Google penalties, and even server-related factors. You should take the time to chat with your SEO provider and find out exactly what they’re looking for in their SEO audits to ensure no stone is left unturned.

We mentioned earlier that these audits are often performed at the start of SEO campaigns. It should be a standard part of bringing on a new client, as it’s best to take care of these underlying issues before you put work into other aspects of optimization. But this actually isn’t the only time you should pursue an SEO audit.

Many experts recommend that you perform another SEO audit for existing clients around six months into their campaign to see how the site is performing and to determine whether there are other opportunities for optimization. Some actually say that SEO audits should be performed every quarter, though that might be excessive for some. At a bare minimum, you should recommend an SEO audit for a given client on a yearly basis. Since the internet (and SEO, as a consequence) evolves so rapidly, an annual SEO audit can help a client stay competitive. And if you’re looking to grow your own business, it’s not a bad idea to adhere to these guidelines yourself.

The information we glean from SEO audits can be used to make better digital marketing decisions and give campaigns a much greater likelihood of success. No matter how you use them, it’s our hope that having SEO audits performed will help you feel more empowered in regard to the growth of your clients’ campaigns and of your own business.

Ready to join our white label SEO reseller program in order to scale your agency? We’re here to help. Whether you have existing clients or you’re trying to increase your leads, SEO audits can play an important role in the growth of your customers and your own business. For more, please contact Semify today.

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